Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trip incidentals

As we traversed through Germany, I felt, once again, thrust into a new environment. New things. New people. New language. Here were some things that stood out to me that I thought I would share with those of you who have and haven't had the opportunity to travel to this part of the world:
  • I am not abnormally tall. People in this part of the world see tall as the norm! Seriously! I saw many women as tall as me and many men towering as my father and brother did. I remember visiting Switzerland early in our marriage and thinking, “I am home! I belong!” I really felt this here. It is unusual for me to meet a woman my height in America (and Turkey.) It is not unusual here at all.
  • Capris should be for women. Sorry, I can't embrace men wearing capris. Especially jean capris. Blah! Something about hairy legs with stylish pants curls my stomach just a bit.
  • I’m not as old as I thought. According to Rick Steve’s book on Germany (he’s awesome by the way!), the average age of a German person is 47. They also only have 1.4 children. Not sure if this was made more evident by where we travelled, when we travelled, or how we travelled, but everyone seemed to be retired and we saw very few other children. What was even more remarkable was that these “older” people were so fit. They could keep up with the best of them. I’ve never seen so many old ladies riding bikes.
  • Welcome little boys! Kids seem more welcome here than they do in America. It doesn’t compare to Turkey (not sure any country can) but once again, the U.S. is left slightly behind in “flexibility” toward children. I am not sure if this is where we were or not, but no one seemed to get frustrated with the boys at all (even when frustrations were in order!) Jenny is a friend of mine from childhood (and a mutual friend of Joni) who lives in Germany. Jenny, you mentioned that taking kids out in your area was difficult. It definitely wasn't up to our Turkish standard but in our area, it was definitely better than America. I can see that there may not be as many places to take children in these parts where they are incredibly welcome (Chucky Cheese type places) so that might be difficult.
  • Scrumptious food! Once again, an adjustment to new foods was in order. Our breakfast was typically fruit, bread, eggs, and meats. We ate lunches on the road (lots of fruit and berries) but dinner had some American “feel” but was in a class all its own. Lots of meats here. Lots of cheese. Our bread was served with melted pork lard which people smothered on like it was the best jam. Hmmm . . . I decided not to try it. Everything I did try was scrumptious. I ordered cheese noodles one afternoon. I pictured some spaghetti noodles covered in cheese. What I got was the most delicious macaroni and cheese I could have ever imagined. Homemade noodles served with stews. We even had wiener schnitzel. The food is, by the way, fantastic. I also have to remember that if I want water that doesn’t bubble, I need to say: “still.” I don’t like carbonated water (and either do the boys.)
  • Dogs everywhere! Seriously, everywhere. Everyone brings their dogs and people act like it is just no big deal. There was one on our boat ride, touring the castles, eating at restaurants. Everywhere. Jenny you left a comment about dogs being more welcome than children and I honestly think you are right.
  • Plumbing changes. Our shower doesn’t have a curtain. Just a thin piece of glass in one corner. I’ve met four different styles of toilets and flushing mechanisms as well. I think JB broke our noisemaker trying to plug it into a 220 volt receptor. (We are using white noise on the computer which is decent but not very loud.) Paying to use the bathroom, heat coming from radiators, door frames so low we have to majorly duck to get through them (or forget and see stars). They are just little things, but they constantly remind you that you aren’t in Kansas anymore.
  • Many languages! I feel quite languaged out at this point. In my attempt to learn Turkish, I’ve had to not push myself to try and pick up more than just a few words in French and German during our time here. My brain can’t handle more than a bit of new in a season of my life.
  • Berries galore! Aaaaahhh! So excited to eat berries and other fresh fruit. Each morning, we eat breakfast at our B & B. We then eat lunch on the road, stopping at markets and eating all sorts of berries, cheeses, and crackers. Yum!!! I agree with “Nicole” who commented that eating what is in season is better for the world in general. The thing is, from what I’ve been told, blueberries are never in season here.
  • Naked people. Okay so this isn't necessarily characteristic of Germany but was funny nonetheless. While eating dinner one evening, a small cruise ship went by on the river we were overlooking. As we looked closer, we discovered that there was a couple standing in their underwear taking pictures of our little town. They were an old couple. They were wearing old people underwear with their socks up to their knees. Everyone at the restaurant had a good laugh at this. I think because they couldn't see us, they didn't think we could see them. Yikes! We can we can!
  • Paying for water. Okay so this continues to “get” me. And Tara, I know you’d appreciate this. I am not comfortable, as an American, where water is always free, to have to pay for any water I want to drink. I’ve been drinking more Coke because, “Gosh darn it, if I am going to pay two bucks, I’m going to pay for something that isn’t water.” It’s a difficult mind-set to remove myself from. I’m working on it. But both in Turkey and Germany, water comes by the bottle. Not something I have been able to adjust to.


Jenny said...

Okay, so I would say your "observations" are for the most
part spot on.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Men should never wear "manpris" as we Americans living in Germany call them. I asked Ryan if he ever would try them (not that I want him to) and he said "NEVER!"

2. Germans love to wear dark socks with sandals. Total faux pas in my book, but they do it all the time. Apparently, white socks are a sure sign you are an American.

3. Germans love to tell you what you are doing wrong. I have had many an old person stop me in a store and tell me (what I can understand) that my child was not dressed properly for the weather. They are sticklers for the proper outerwear. They expect hose on children in the winter, and rain pants on them in the spring. Don't even get me started on all the different shoe requirements. Perhaps, I should start my own blog...

3. So glad you had good dining experiences out. Like I said, it depends. If you come back (please come back) we will take you to an INCREDIBLE German restaurant that is extremely kid friendly. Also, in the summer we eat mostly at Biergartens which are outside and usually have playgrounds. These are super kid friendly.

4.Germans are EXCELLENT drivers. You do not drive in the left lane unless you are passing. They will let you know you need to get back over into the right lane. I wish the So. FLA drivers would get a clue!

5. In Germany you pay for bathrooms, water, and ketchup. Don't ask me why, you just do! My husband used to be the cheap date (water drinker), but now his water costs more than my coke. In fact, Bier is often the cheaper option. And,if you want ketchup at McDonalds, it's extra. Unless, you get the happy meal. :)

I hope you can catch another flight over sometime when we're not in FL (how ironic). We would love to show you some more of this beautiful country!

TAV said...

I HATE paying for water.
And bathrooms